Culture of Color
Bhutan is known for its rich and colorful cultural heritage which is the main attraction for tourists.
Bhutan also known as the Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the eastern Himalayas nestling between India and China. Located in the heart of the Himalayas, Bhutan is a land-locked country. The form of government is as unique as the country itself; it is one of the only democratic monarchies in the world with a parliamentary form of government. Bhutan has been a member of the United Nations since 1971. It is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The country is a member of 150 international organizations, including the World Bank and the IMF and maintains strong economic, social and military relations with India. Other than India, Bhutan has diplomatic relations with more than 52 countries and the European Union. By a longstanding agreement, Indian and Bhutanese citizens can travel to each other's countries without the need for a passport or visa; however, they need to carry their national identity cards with them while travelling. Bhutan is one of the world’s smallest economies, mainly based on agriculture, forestry and tourism. The currency used in Bhutan is the ngultrum, which is connected to the Indian rupee. The national language is Bhutanese, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family.
Popularly known as the Land of Thunder Dragons, Bhutan is famous for its rich and unique cultural heritage and has become one of the main attractions for tourists. Bhutanese tradition
is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Its indigenous population comprises the Drukpas. Three ethnic groups: the Snarchops, the Ngalops and the Lhotsampas make up today’s Drukpa population. Most of them are predominantly Buddhist, while Hinduism is the second largest religion in the country. The Buddhist culture has and still plays an important role in the cultural, social and sociological development of Bhutan and its people. Though the urban settlements have moved towards a modem form of living, the majority of the population still lives in small rural villages where small family farms are the prime form of life and farming, the most common occupation.
Most of the Bhutanese eat their food by hands, keeping up with a simple and traditional lifestyle. Their diets are rich in meat, poultry, dairy, grain and vegetables. The food is first served to the head of the family followed by others; the entire family sits cross-legged on the wooden floor while eating together. Due to modernization, the trends for the traditional Bhutanese are changing; the clay pots used for serving and eating purposes have been replaced by ceramic bowls. Though the traditional eating habits are still a part of the Bhutanese everyday lifestyle but is most commonly practiced in the rural areas of the country, compared to modern cities.
Bhutanese traditional dresses both of men and women are the most distinctive and unique garments that have evolved over thousands of years. The national dress for men is the gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt. Whereas, women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, clipped at the shoulders and tied at the waist. These dresses provide a unique identity to the people of Bhutan; they also depict the true representation of Buddhism, which is reflected in the Bhutanese lifestyle.
Bhutan’s richness and cultural diversity is further enhanced by the many elaborate and colorful religious festivals that are celebrated throughout the country. Each village is known for their unique festival as every village organizes a different festival in which people from other villages and areas
Bhutan’s richness and cultural diversity is further enhanced by the many elaborate and colorful religious festivals that are celebrated throughout the country.
come and spend time with their families and friends. These festivals also serve the purpose of connecting families with one another and distinct relatives, living in different areas. One of the most widely known festivals is the annual Tshechu, meaning a religious festival. As the Tshechu begins, the villagers and the general public dress in their finest clothes and congregate at their local temples and monasteries.
Marriages are simple affairs and are usually kept low-key. However, elaborate rituals are performed for lasting unions between the bride and the bridegroom. After the religious ceremony, parents, relative and friends give traditional offerings to the newlywed couple. Love marriages are common in urban areas, but the tradition of arranged marriages is still common in the villages.
The birth of a child is always welcomed in Bhutan. Extended family and guests are discouraged from visiting during the first three days after the birth. On the third day, a short purification ritual is performed after which visitors are welcomed to visit the new born and the mother. For the Bhutanese, children as the progenitors of the future and therefore they do not discriminate about the sex of the child. Traditionally various gifts are offered, ranging from dairy products to clothes and money.